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Adina "Adi"

"I just don't think... that there are enough words to make you understand."

0 · 585 views · located in New New York

a character in “King of the Dolls”, as played by Ashes-6695

Description

♪♫~♪♫

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Name: α∂ιηα "α∂ι"

Age: 18

Gender: Male, actually, though he sports a very androgynous look.

Sexual orientations: Pansexual

Role: Doll

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Personality: Curious and exploratory, Adi was designed with a love for investigating everything that's new, and trying out new things even if they seem dangerous. While not the most personable, or expressive doll, that doesn't mean that Adi lacks in the personality department. In fact, he is simply meant to require a more stubborn owner in order to draw out more of his emotions, if they so choose. He's a bit solemn, after an incident in his past, but as a doll, it is his job to move past whatever has happened for the sake of his new owner, and he does just that easily. While extremely obedient to his owners, and a bit naive when it comes to their selfish desires, he holds many admirable traits, like bravery where most people would be afraid, and the desire to discover the details about any mystery that comes his way, even if most people would never want to know the answer. While he doesn't find much of an easy time verbally expressing himself, most of his emotions, his feelings, and things he tries to convey to others are shown physically. He seems as if he cannot go for a very long time without putting his hands on a person he feels comfortable with, but that comes in any emotion he could possible have, whether it be a soft little kiss on the cheek to convey happiness or gratitude, or even a shove to convey that he is upset. He doesn't talk a lot, but he still manages to get his point across in most ways.

History: A special pre-order doll, Adi was made exactly as his owner, a young man who resided overseas in London named Darren, had requested. It isn't uncommon for a doll to be owned over-seas, of course, and Adi was no exception, but he is, however, one of the few who have been sent back. No, it was on no account Adi's fault, or even the fault of an issue with his programming or his design. Adi was perfect to Darren, and although the twenty-five-year-old was hardly one to deny himself the privilege of using Adi for sexual purposes, Adi was almost like a little brother to him. He cared for the doll immensely, as he had no family since the passing of his father two years previous, and his own brother's admittance into prison for killing him. Which, though tragic, did allow Darren to live in all the comforts he wanted. The situation was going wonderfully, and Adi had opened up wonderfully under Darren's ownership. The perfection of the situation, however, would not last forever, though, and in fact, lasted only about two months. Darren was driving, and Adina was sleeping in the passenger seat. It was two in the morning, and coming down the wrong side of the highway was a drunk driver. The driver smashed head first into Darren's car, and while Adi had awoken to the screeching breaks and honk of the horn, he was knocked out upon impact. When he finally awoke, his owner was covered in blood, his wounds were gaping, and his nose was broken. For the first time in his short life, Adina was screaming at the top of his lungs, yelling desperately for his owner to awake. He screamed and screamed, as an ambulance took Darren without even putting on the sirens, knowing he was already gone. Adina was carried by the police into the back of their cars to be taken back to the London headquarters of Heartland, where all the dolls were shipped in and out from, and aided if they had any medical problems. They swiftly gave him heavy anesthetics and fixed the spinal break that had been caused by the crash, and stitching up all of his wounds. However, with limited resources, they sent Adi back to the headquarters in New York (New New York is more of a humorous term for the city, since it's rebuild after a near-apocalypse) so that all the synapses could be repaired and the scientists could give him proper mental and physical therapy. Now that he's been mended, his personality has taken a full reset to being as closed off as he was when Darren had first gotten him, and his mobility is back up to 100%, he's been placed back up for sale. They're confident that his sweet and observant nature will attract a buyer, as well as that British accent of his, which is hardly typical of any of the dolls in America.

Likes: Exploring. Listening to other people talk. Gentle touching. Touching other people. Close contact. New situations. Adventures. Gentle people. Going outside. Giving kisses. Listening to music (he really wishes he could play). Learning new things. Studying people. Being useful. The look on people's faces when they believe he is a girl and find out that he is actually Male. Quiet.

Dislikes: Long conversations, he'll do anything to cut them short most times. Judgmental people. Being trapped inside all day. Loud noises and sudden sounds. Disappointing others, especially if the person he's disappointed is his owner. Opening up to strangers.

Secrets: He absolutely hates riding in cars after the accident, and although after a while, it's easy to tell, he's terrified of thunder, and any loud, sudden sounds of the like. The accident still bothers him a lot, but he refuses to tell people what happened. Sometimes he won't even admit to being in the car when the accident occurred, but it is quite obvious that he was, seeing his scars. Also, that he is afraid of anyone who is drunken.

Fears: Car rides, though he goes along with them anyway, since there isn't really any other option most of the time. Thunder storms and likewise, loud, sudden noises. People who've consumed just a bit too much alcohol.

Crush: "No, that wouldn't be right."

Boyfriend/Girlfriend: "I don't believe... that it is permitted?"

Other: He's a British Doll, and has an accent.

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Height: 5'6"

Build: Lean and feminine, with a thinner waistline for a boy, and almost lanky features, making him appear longer than he is.

Looks: A gorgeous doll with neutral, dirty-blond hair and a gentle, feminine face, Adina is not unlike most dolls when it comes to beauty. His skin is flawless, a light shade with perhaps only a few little freckles every so often. He boasts a natural look, with bright brown eyes and his shoulder-length hair sometimes unkempt. His lovely face, easily comparing to that of a girl's face, holds adorable features like red-tinted, full lips and big eyes, down-turned slightly at the corners, and a sweet, button nose which curves ever-so-cutely. While his body still boasts many scars from his tragedy, his elegance has not been overshadowed by them, and he is still a lovely sight to behold. He was designed androgynous, with features that could appear male or female until the doll was stripped, and the feature in itself is a big piece of how he is a work of art. Though going for a much more innocent and untainted look by avoiding tattooing, the doll does feature piercings in his brow and his nose, though both of these are more often than not removed, and placed in when he feels like it. While he can appear as a beautiful young man, boasting cutely feminine features, he also boasts outfits that mask his masculinity completely, and it isn't rare when he decides that he'd suddenly rather be wearing makeup and more girlish clothing.

Distinguishing Features: He boasts no tattoos, as his owner had more of a desire for a natural look to the doll, and though his body boasts a freckle or two here and there, there are few distinguishing marks aside from the scars which remain from surgery and the car accident. Little scars are here and there all on his body, though they are managing to heal, but the most prominent ones include the scar from his surgery which runs along his spine, a scar which can only be seen by where it starts at the top of his forehead on the left side before disappearing beneath his hair line, and the most noticeable; a scar which cut into his neck on the right, and disfigured that side of the Heartland Emblem. The computer inside is still usable, at the very least.

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So begins...

Adina "Adi"'s Story

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adina "Adi"

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α∂ιηα "α∂ι"

Image 'Adi?' a voice seemed to call. Adina blinked a few times, but didn't turn around. The wireless ear buds he was using blasted the Shanghai Restoration Project in his ears, and he wasn't quite in the mood to turn around and check for confirmation that the sound was more than just his imagination. But when the sound came closer, undeniably there, calling his name once again, and more forcefully, Adina looked upward at the scientist who hovered above him, her brows raised expectantly.

She sighed, plucking the ear bud out of Adi's right ear so that he would be able to hear her.

"Adi, where did you get that Ipod?" She accused. Adi instantly averted his gaze over to the slim, electrical device next to his pillow, before simply looking back at the scientist with the short blonde pixie cut. Before long, he found that he didn't need to answer at all, as one of the tall, male scientists was coming into Adina's temporary room at Heartland as well.

"Relax, Brittany, I let him borrow it since he likes that music so much," The man said, now hovering over Adi as well. "Nothing wrong with it. Right, Adi?"

Adina flexed a small smile at the man, who he knew to be named Evan. Adi like Evan, much like he liked quite a few of the scientists who half-way decent. But Evan was typically stopping by to do checks on Adi's healing, and usually let him listen to music, or brought him a small snack. He didn't mind Brittany so much most of the time - she sometimes came by to brush his hair, or do his makeup, or help him pick out an outfit - but she was a bit more strict to the rules than Evan was. Adi flexed another smile at the look she was giving Evan; that look of disappointment, but knowing she couldn't really do anything to defy him.

As Adina dropped his head back down to the pillow, shifting his position in the single bed once more and taking an extra moment to push his snarled hair out of his face and shut his eyes, Brittany's gaze was back on him, and her hands went and grabbed the sheets to pull them off of the little androgynous doll. "Oh no you don't," She grumbled. "It's almost noon, and typically by now you're off in some completely different part of the building where you shouldn't be. I'm not saying I approve of your skill of somehow getting through locked doors, but it's about time you got cleaned up."

Adi shook his head, turning onto his stomach and letting his face be buried in the sheets. The air conditioned room was beginning to set a chill in his body without the blankets, as he was clothed only in his undergarments and nothing else. Yes, he was aware that his behavior today would make little sense to them, as this was the longest time he'd spent in bed in the morning since he'd arrived at the New York headquarters of Heartland. He was simply an early riser, but today he didn't feel like it. He just wasn't in the mood at the moment, not for what these people had planned. They officially had him back on the buying market today, even though he still had his scars, even though they knew they couldn't replace the damaged emblem in his neck, and even though his old owner - the only owner he wanted - was never going to come by and claim him. His existence had been so perfect for Darren! How did they expect Adi to mix that well with anyone else? It was an absolutely awful thought! No! He didn't want to get up! He didn't want to, and he wouldn't! No being on the market, no new owners, and certainly no party, as Adina new very well that they planned on trying to sucker someone into taking the "poor unfortunate little Doll" sometime in between the auctions and the presentations and the.... drinking. Now that was the last thing he needed.

"No more, Adi." This time it was Evan speaking. Adina tightened his grip on fistfuls of bed sheets, anticipating the man to use his force to bring him out of the bed. "It's time to get up." Evan scooped his arms around Adi's bare waist, lifting and pulling the smaller doll up and into his grip without a single issue. Adi grunted, trying to pry at the firm grip around his stomach which held up up a good six inches above the ground easily. His feet, with no ground in reach, applied their pressure against the scientist's legs for support. Evan had only ever had to lift Adi up three times, and only two of those had been forcefully. The first time, however, had been when Adi had still been partially immobile from his injuries.

The sound coming from Adi had begun as somewhat of a groan, but before long, he erupted into the closest thing he could get to a yell; a very firm statement. "Let go!"

Evan frowned. It wasn't typical for Adina to say a single word to the scientists, or anyone for that matter, unless he felt it was absolutely necessary. This time, Adi used two words. After three months, the scientists knew Adi pretty well, at least the ones who dealt with him did, and they got that part of his personality was minimal verbal communication. Adi was typical to show what he meant, rather than say it, and only really added in the words if he felt that he needed them. Only with someone he was absolutely comfortable around, or someone he was trying to be extremely polite to, or someone who he didn't feel was understanding what he was trying to say, would receive the actual words. In this case, Adi just didn't feel like they understood what he wanted.

"I don't want to be back on the market," He continued, and then he shut his trap. No more words. Not for these two anyway. He wouldn't allow them the privilege to have any more. Never again.

Evan and Brittany exchanged some looks, as the realization instantly set in that those would be the last words they'd be getting from the doll, and yet they still needed to convince him that getting a new owner was going to be okay.

"Adina," Brittany began. "It's tough losing your first owner but everyone worked really hard to fix you up so that it wouldn't be your last. You know you can't stay here, so if you don't get a new owner, you'll be decommissioned."

There was that word again. "Decommissioned." Adi didn't like that word at all. It meant to be put out of work, but for a doll, it was the word they used to replace death. They didn't tell Dolls about death or dying, specifically. They didn't tell them it meant they would never be alive again. Everything was just implied, and they expected dolls, who'd never even processed what death really meant, to understand the threat. For a lot of the failures who were threatened with decommission, they let the scientists put them out without another thought, without fully understanding what it meant. They were going to kill him if he couldn't find a new owner. Sure, it would be gentle, but he'd still be dead in the end. Just like Darren.

Adi felt like crying.

He stopped trying to pry Evan off of him, and Evan promptly let him down to the ground, and Adi felt a good amount of relief just at the sensation of his bare toes connecting with the cool, pale hardwoods. When Adi turned around to look at Evan's facial expression, he almost wished he hadn't. Evan had a much more frightening disappointed look than Brittany did. After a few seconds of back and forth staring, Evan copying Adi's 'no-talk' move, the scientist plucked the remaining wireless ear-bud out of Adi's ear and pocketed it, leaning around the doll and snagging his Ipod back.

"You can have it back once you're clean, got it?" He requested. Adi nodded reluctantly. There goes his Shanghai Restoration Project. Surely a new owner wouldn't be letting him sit around and listen to music all day. "Go on, then. Brittany'll help you. That's her job, not mine."

Adi watched Evan leave the room before taking a glance back at Brittany, and then headed for the little standard bathroom that was connected to the temporary bedroom. With Brittany keeping watch, as was typical, he slipped his underpants off and stepped into the shower, hitting the button on the wall for the preset, timed shower to begin, and finally wash all of his grogginess away. And maybe he could even get a brush through his knotted hair afterwards.

When the fifteen minutes was up, he stepped out of the shower and the young woman was already toweling him down, rubbing all the remnants of water off his body. She wasn't talking to him either. Another silent treatment. Adina hated that kind of thing; giving him a 'taste of his own medicine.' But it didn't matter. If they had their way and had him out of here by today, he wouldn't have to bother with them ever again. No more scientist sass.

It was another twenty minutes before she broke down and said something to him. He was clothed in a black and white striped tee-shirt dress with the sleeves hanging off the shoulders, pale blue stockings with candy-patterned skeleton legs and all-black converse, and a dog-tag necklace with the Heartland emblem on it. Brittany had done his hair up, too, putting it in a twisted bun with one segment of his hair french-braided on its way to the tie-back. His makeup was light, so that more could be added later in the day. It was a cute and comfortable look while he was stuck waiting around Heartland for that stupid ball.

"What do you want to do then, Adi?" She asked, Laying a few dressy outfits out on the bed. "Do you want a suit or a gown for tonight?"

Adi bit his lip, looking at all the articles of clothing before he decided, picking up a tan, textured dress from the pile and handing it to her. She nodded, hanging the garment up on a hook in the room. Adi only figured that the elegant gown would make an interesting surprise for anyone who thought it was a good idea to buy him when they came to the realization that he was a guy.

"Sounds good," Brittany replied. Adi found the reply odd, since he hadn't actually made any noise that would even qualify as 'sounding good.' "And by the time you're getting ready, that bun will have your hair all nice and curly, too. I'm sure we'll find someone to take you."

Adina watcher her gather the rest of the outfits and hurry out of the room. Before the door could close and lock him in, however, he kicked one of his shoes off and over to the other side of the room, allowing it to get wedge in the door and keep it open. He grinned to himself, hopping up and making his way out of the room, grabbing his shoe and slipping it on as he did so. He checked both ways in the hallway before jogging down to the left, where the other rooms were, and where the path to the elevators were. No more sitting in the room. If he wasn't allowed to mope in bed, He might as well explore, and maybe even run into some of the other dolls who still stood waiting around at Heartland. The scientists knew him to be an avid wanderer, and none of them ever bothered to send him back to his room once he'd gotten out, since he never caused any real trouble. All he did was look on quietly, after all. No issues, there.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isaac Character Portrait: Adina "Adi"

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Isaac

Well, at first, being alive had been pretty neat. It was loosing it's glimmer and shine real fast though. They wouldn't stop cooing over him and pushing him around and telling him to do things. It was quite annoying. He hated it the most when they dressed him. It made him feel like a toy. He couldn't explain it, he really hadn't been sentient enough to express himself properly, but it just gave him a bad feeling in his gut. If this was what it meant to be a doll, he really didn't want to be one. Why did they get to be humans and he was just an artificial creation? Where did his consciousness even come from? He'd asked that and they'd told him not to worry about it. Later, however, he'd overheard them talking about his programming, which sent a jolt of fear through his stomach. He was a program, like the flat-screened computers they used to check his vitals when he'd first woken up.

At this moment he was just waking up again. For the third time since six that morning. Melody, one of the scientists charged with keeping him in line, as she liked to say, had been trying fruitlessly to get him out of bed. He was listless though, and just stared at her for a few second before closing his eyes again. Though he'd only been alive for a few days, he was already starting to feel down about his future. They'd told him that people, sentient, real, live people, not like him, would come and look at him, and if they liked him they would buy him, then he would belong to who ever the buyer was. "And yes, you have to do what they say." Was Melody's reply when he asked. This awakening, Isaac saw as he cracked one brown eye, had brought company in the means of a large male scientist. He remained silent and sullen as he was lifted bodily from the refuge of his bed and set on his bare feet, shriving in his boxers.

Melody's thanks to the man was met with a wave as the male left the room, leaving Him alone with the small female scientist. He made a move back towards the bed, but Mel grabbed his arm. He looked at her, a melancholy expression on his features. "You can't sleep all day, Isaac." She chastised him, patting his cheek. "We've got to get you ready for tonight so you can go start a new life with a new owner. Come on, be excited. You'll get to see the world, go places, meet people." Her voice was dripping with enthusiasm that didn't rub off on him. He looked at the floor, arms folded. "Fine." He mumbled, hoping she'd just get on with it. He didn't like it when she got that peppy tone. It was all lies anyway, or at least, it seemed like it was all lies.He didn't really know, he hadn't been around long enough to properly differentiate, but his gut was giving him a bad feeling about this whole thing.

"Let's get you cleaned up, there's a good boy." Mel said as she shooed him into the bathroom adjoining his room. He moved but his arms were still folded obstinately. He didn't want to be a 'good boy' but what choice did he have in the matter? The shower, at least, was pleasant enough. Nobody else touching him, primping him. He could get himself clean. Even with Mel looking on to make sure he didn't fall, which he had a couple times, since his motor skills weren't at top notch yet. Especially not when everything around him was slick with water and soap.

He toweled off, and Mel tossed him a grey hoodie with the heartland logo stamped on the front in gold. Seeing the logo always made him touch his throat, where the same symbol rested just above his collarbone, right in the center of his throat. If he pushed on it it made it hard to breath. "That's just until we pick out something nice for you to wear for the ball." Mel informed him as he pulled it over his head. He really liked hoodies, he'd worn them almost constantly since he'd come online. He couldn't say why, especially considering how warm it was in the building, but they were nice. Mel then held out a pair of purple skinny pants, which Isaac narrowed his eyes at. "No." He said.

Mel sighed. "Just wear them, please, it's just for a little while."

"I don't think they'll fit." He said, gesturing at his legs.

Mel sucked in her cheeks. "If you promise to stay right there I'll find you something else." She said, looking hard at her charge. What could he do, anyway? He was just wearing a hoodie and boxers, he had enough sense not to go out of the room like that, didn't he? And she was just running down the hall, she'd hear him if he left the room. If she cracked the door then she'd be able to get back in without her key anyway. And he was a good doll, if a bit listless, he'd be fine.

Mel was wrong. The moment she turned the corner he darted out of his room, a satisfied expression on his face. He didn't have a destination in mind, he had no idea how to get out, or where he'd go if he did escape, but the thrill of momentary freedom was sweet. he wet-haired young man strolled leisurely through the halls, on watch for any guards or scientists that might cross his path. He was lucky for a while, he saw absolutely nobody. It didn't last long though. He turned a corner a bit too haphazardly and nearly ran into another person. He immediately tensed, thinking it was a scientist, but once he caught himself and took a step back he realized it was another doll. Female? Looked like it. He hadn't met another doll before. Perhaps it would be an interesting experience.

He examined her face for a moment, his trademark mournful expression ever present, and tipped his head slightly to one side. "I see you got out too." He commented slipping his hands into the pockets of his pullover. Just then he realized that he was only half dressed. Whoops, he'd forgotten about that. best to ignore it. "They call me Issac. Who are you?" he asked a moment later, as if to cover up his realization to the nature of his own dress.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isaac Character Portrait: Adina "Adi"

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α∂ιηα "α∂ι"

Image Adi seemed almost as if he was wandering aimlessly, though he knew his overly complicated path would eventually be leading him where he wanted to go. He simply didn't mind a few side-tracks, making his way down some of the hallways of different rooms - some filled, some otherwise unoccupied. The elevator wasn't going anywhere, at least, and it would be a while before his two wardens would be looking for him to get ready for that stupid Heartland Ball. Thus, he could take his time.

He tilted his head curiously, listening to the creek of one of the doors and a steady beat of someone making quick haste out of it. A scientist? Well, it had to be, certainly. There weren't a lot of dolls who were very interested in leaving their rooms. Not new ones anyway, or even a lot of the older ones. Well, perhaps he could simply leave it at the general statement; dolls didn't typically go roaming around. There wasn't a reason for most of them to. They got told to stay, so they stayed, it was as simple as that. Adi decided to ignore the noise, letting his head straighten and his gaze go back to wandering the hallway for something interesting enough that it was worth his time.

The more he thought about it, though, the more it was beginning to make him question his initial thought. The doors only seemed to creek when they were opened slowly; a sign of sneaking out, rather than a blatant leave from a room. He tried to think back to the first time he was stuck in the situation, waiting at Heartland to be picked up, but the fact of it all was, when he'd first woken up, it had been in the London outpost, and he'd only been there for two days while he was still getting control over his motor skills. Perhaps, had he been in the situation for longer, he would have been more inclined to explore outside of his room. So, in fact, it might have been a doll. It really was entirely possible.

He continued down the hall leisurely, trying not to care about it too much, as he still planned on making his way onto a different floor, and had no idea where the other doll would possibly be, or where he was headed. Nothing much to do about that situation.

As Adi approached an intersection however, he stopped short, watching as a much taller boy - a doll, to be exact, as Adi quickly noticed the emblem - round the corner all-too-haphazardly, and try to stop as quickly as he could so that he wouldn't bump into the much smaller boy. The doll seemed a bit surprised at first, but the expression quickly calmed down as he seemed to process that there was no threat.

Adina's eyes darted all over the taller Doll, only half paying attention while he was being spoken to, but hearing the words all the same. "I see you got out too." the boy had said. Words that didn't matter, Adi decided after listening to them. No need for any kind of response. After all, getting out was Adina's specialty. What had Evan called him again? Oh yes, the 'Doll-version of Indiana Jones.' Adi hadn't understood the reference that Evan was trying to convey, but Evan quickly explained that it more-or-less meant that Adi was just good at getting out of a bind. That was fine.

A small smile pulled at the corners of Adi's mouth, as he took note of the boy's lack of trousers. How silly he looked, wandering around without anything to cover up his undergarments. The second time the boy opened his mouth, Adi decided to pick up his gaze and look directly at him, giving some steady eye contact to show that he was paying attention.

"They call me Issac. Who are you?"

An introduction. Adi supposed this needed a verbal response, since there would be no one coming around the corner to answer the question for him, and a simple yes or no could not be administered. It would be fine. After all, it was only polite to introduce oneself, especially to another Doll, who couldn't simply look up the information. This was a question that Adi didn't typically answer for scientists.

Adina let the question hang in the air for a moment, studying the boy's facial expression and features. "Perfection" was to be expected, and this guy was no exception. This got him thinking about himself though, and what the other boy's reaction was. Surely Isaac was having a little confusion on male vs female, and possibly even had chosen female as the pronoun for use, but there was another thing; Isaac seemed very new. His fumble, though slight, was noticeable, and an older doll would have probably thought twice before running around in their undergarments. The point of how new he was, was simply that Adi began to wonder what the new Doll's reaction was to seeing not only another doll, but one that was so obviously damaged.

"My name is Adina," Adi finally answered in that English accent of his, giving a polite, if not somewhat amused smile at Isaac. "But everyone calls me Adi."

Adi's eyes wandered back to the other boy's bare legs, flexing his smile a little wider, and tilting his head over to one side. What exactly was the explanation for something like that, he wondered. Perhaps the other boy had refused or something? But what an odd thing to refuse, and such an odd person to be refusing anything, what with being a Doll and everything. How intriguing.

Smile turning into a grin, Adi looked back up to the boy's face.

"I see London, I see France," He began, giving a light sing-song tone to his voice, as much as he could with an almost expressionless voice. "I see Isaac's underpants."

The statement was among one of the many he'd learned from his time around other people. He didn't quite understand it at the time, as when it had been heard by him originally, he'd know that his master couldn't possibly be seeing France all the way from London in the first place, and his further misunderstanding of the statement had been shown when he'd tried to use it, and used the same exact name that his owner had used when saying it to a completely different person. He'd later explained that the subject of the rhyme would change depending on whose undergarments you were seeing, and that seeing London and France was used just to make the statement sound humorous... or something. Verbal communication was always so confusing. Either way, Adi was confident that he'd used the statement correctly.

After another small moment, Adi put his hand out to the boy, specifically his right hand, and he placed it out palm-up, the same palm which held a thick white line across it, where the scar had completely healed, but still had a bit of a ghost left on the skin. It was one of the marks that everyone was confident would be completely gone in a matter of months. The gesture was not one in which he offered to shake hands or anything, but in fact was offering for the other Doll to take it and follow him. After a small moment though, it occurred to Adi that the other Doll probably wouldn't understand, so, leaving his hand out, he offered a statement in a verbal fashion.

"I'm going down to the courtyard out in the back of the building." His statement was plain and simple, to the point, but not to the point enough. He needed a few more words, and he had to put in the appropriate amount of effort to find the right ones. "Would you like to come?"

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isaac Character Portrait: Adina "Adi"

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Isaac

That doll was about the same height as Melody, a little bit taller, actually, Isaac decided as he looked down at the face of the other. If he'd registered the other's time-healed wounds at all, he certainly didn't understand the meaning of them. As it was, the chief thought in his mind was about meeting a new person. Another doll, at that. For a moment he wondered if this doll could answer the questions that the scientists refused to provide insight on. He was slightly discomforted by the way the other was silently looking at him. He shifted on his feet as he waiting for an answer, if one was going to come, and propped his foot up on the ground, curling his toes against the floor. It was quite apparent that the other had noticed his state of dress, and Isaac could only hope that it would not be mentioned. He didn't know quite how he'd explain that one.

The response he'd been waiting for, those moments had drawn out into long minutes in his mind, was very polite in coming in a voice that sounded quite detached. And the accent was different than any he'd heard before. England, his brain informed him in it's helpful way. It was still strange that his mind knew things his consciousness did not, as if it was an entity separate from his mind itself. Another thing the lad noticed was that the voice was decidedly not female. At least, not like any female voice he'd heard. Actually, he really wasn't very sure as to what gender this doll was. Perhaps there was a third category of sexuality that he'd not yet learned about.

Isaac was drawn from his puzzling over this curious new matter by Adina. Or Adi, if he wanted to be everyone. He didn't quite register what his talking partner had said at first, just the grin across those confusing features. He did catch the very last part in full clarity, which made a faint flush tinge his face. While the former half of the little singsong sentence was still extraordinarily confusing, Isaac was more concerned with resisting the urge to pull his hoodie down to his knees in embarrassment. He didn't like that emotion. He'd ask Melody about it later, if she was a decent mood when she found him.

"It's a long story," He merely said instead, hooking his foot behind his other ankle and clasping his hands behind him. To swallow the redness in his cheeks he smiled, matching the other's expression. He refused to feel this embarrassment emotion. Keeping his composure apparently worked, because the longer he didn't fold to the temptation to act shyly the less the emotion tugged at his gut. He reached up absentmindedly, untangling his fingers, and touched the emblem stamped into his throat. there was a similar one on the other doll's throat, Mel told him that it was the way to identify a doll from a human. The other doll's emblem looked strange though, as if it had a crack running through it. Or something. He couldn't really tell what it was. Just that it was among the other small things that made this questionably-gendered doll just a tiny bit offsetting in his mind. Like something wasn't quite right. But Isaac hadn't met another doll before, he didn't know if they could look like that or not.

The outstretched hand made him jump, so engrossed in his thoughts as he was. The had had a pale streak, perfectly formed, across the palm. Isaac stared at the hand for a moment, uncomprehending. He looked up confusedly into the brown eyes of the other, noting that they were a lighter shade of his own hue distractedly. Before he could open his mouth to inquire about the gesture the other elaborated without prompting in that deliberate voice of his. Going somewhere. So why did he have his hand out? It took a moment for understanding to dawn across Isaac's face. Oh, he needed to take the hand so the other could guide him where they were going. "Yes, I'd like that." He said with a polite smile, still eying the hand.

Hesitantly he lifted his hand from his throat and moved it over to the outstretched one. Before he took the hand, however, he was compelled to draw his thumb across the white streak of skin. It didn't feel much different than the rest of the skin, actually. Then he looked at his own hand, where the skin was perfectly silky. His lips were slightly parted in a thinking expression as he slid his hand against the palm of the shorter doll his fingers knowing what to do instinctively. With his other hand he tugged his hoodie down to make a small attempt to cover himself. He stared with intensity at the other doll biting his lip as he continued examining the visual clues he was given, from the scar on the doll's forehead to the femininely curved cheek.

All of a sudden his processing core clicked, placing all the elements in the right spots, and a thousand and one questions flooded his mind. One at a time though, he knew. That was the best way to go about these things. Especially since this doll seemed very slow and deliberate with every word. Very unlike Isaac. "You are confusing me...Adi," He tested the name in his mouth, pausing for a moment before speaking it as if chewing on the letters, "Your appearance tells me you should be female, but your voice sounds male." He was very good at differentiating voices, it was one of the first things he'd done upon waking, as it had taken well over thirty minutes for him to figure out how to open his eyes. "I don't understand." He tipped his head to one side, the intense look on his face matched by the tone of his voice. His curiosity was a burning thing, and he'd just formulated many questions to ask, the first being the least of the ones present in his mind. Of course, Isaac had learned to start with the simpler things, because a potentially touchy question right off the start might cause the other to shut down, and Isaac wanted as many answers as he could get before he hit a wall, as always. And he wanted as many questions as he could get before Melody and her guard friends found him.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isaac Character Portrait: Adina "Adi"

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α∂ιηα "α∂ι"

Image Adi tilted his head, observing with curiosity the other doll's reaction to the white scar on his palm, drawing his thumb across before bothering to take the hand that was offered. The look on Isaac's face was perhaps the most interesting; that curiosity about something he'd never seen before, and the concentration on something new. Adina liked both of those things. They were some of his favorite expressions. When the other doll had accepted, and his hand was securely intertwined with Adina's, Adi took off down the hall again, keeping a leisurely pace as he tugged Isaac along.

A glance back at Isaac proved equally as intriguing as any time that he looked at him, as he watched the boy tug down his hoodie a little bit more to try and cover up his undergarments awkwardly. The action made Adi smile a little more, simply out of his amusement. Perhaps he could stop by one of the clothing rooms and allow the boy to grab something to cover up? Though, he couldn't be sure the boy's watcher wouldn't be at any particular one, and so he decided to discard the idea. It didn't make too much of a difference, either way. There were few people that would be seeing them, anyway, until people began looking.

"You are confusing me...Adi," Isaac said all of a sudden.

Adina looked back at the other boy, confusion on his own face as to what it was that Isaac wanted to inquire upon. He didn't understand what might be confusing, as he'd tried to be as clear and concise in his words as possible.

"Your appearance tells me you should be female, but your voice sounds male." He continued.

Oh, Adi thought, smiling at the statement. It only made sense to see some confusion on that, after all, especially with Isaac being so new and all, and probably unfamiliar with the idea of androgyny. It was probably still confusing to a lot of people though, what with Adi's feminine clothing and thin frame. Still, he had to give the other Doll some credit for being able to detect the masculine tones in his voice, which not as many people could do, and still fumbled over for determination of gender. He tried to think of the best way to explain the situation, in which the boy would understand why there would be any confusion over gender in the first place.

"I suppose it's supposed to be confusing," Adi said finally, looking back at Isaac while he walked, and giving a kind smile. "I am male, but... I look very female with my face." He turned his head back, staring at the the path before him while he tried to find words to elaborate on this to make it more understandable. "I was made to look androgynous, so that it doesn't matter what gender people think that I am."

He gave another smile at Isaac, though this time he tried to make it a bit more apologetic, as he was unsure if the explanation would be sufficient for the other doll to understand. Shrugging, he decided to make a small afterthought to the statement, which was something that he didn't typically do, though he was beginning to believe he'd be making many exceptions for this doll, seeing as there would be difficulty otherwise, and the boy seemed as if he was hardly done from speaking. Adi decided it would be okay.

"All it means to me is that I can wear whatever clothes that I want. I can dress like a boy if I want or a girl if I want." He smiled again.

When his eyes reached the elevators, he tugged Isaac a little more swiftly until they reached it, and he slipped his hand out of Isaac's so that he could use it. He lifted up the hem of his tee-shirt dress on the side to pull the pass-key he'd "borrowed" from Brittany about a month ago from where he kept it held against his skin by the waist of his stockings. Brittany had assumed she'd dropped the card, though that had been far from the case. It was alright though, he kept the card well hidden, and Brittany had easily gotten a replacement. He didn't feel any guilt over it, and there were still places that Brittany's card couldn't get him to, anyway, and it didn't replace any of the keys, typically.

Swiping the card in the panel by the elevator, he rocked back and forth on his heels as he waited for it to arrive, eyes back on the other boy again, and letting out a small sigh. This would be a long conversation, Adi was sure, though he wasn't quite sure if he minded or not. This was the most he'd spoken to a person since Darren had passed. He was so much more introverted, especially at Heartland, where he felt that most of the scientists could answer their questions themselves, rather than needing an answer outright. This doll... Surely he needed the answers. He could use them, at least, and he would feel disheartened if Adi went and outright refused to give them to him. Perhaps he could categorize it under needing to speak because there was no way for the boy to understand without words. But after the conversation was done, he doubted he would be giving any more words to the boy. Not that he would need to. This doll was lovely, perfect, and flawless. He'd be gone in no time, and Adi was almost sure that the same would not happen for him. It would take more time to find someone who would be willing to take a damaged doll.

"You have more questions," Adi stated plainly. He swallowed, picking up his hand and fingering the place where his neck indented and half of the Heartland emblem was disfigured while he searched for accurate words to say what he was planning to say. "I don't... I don't typically give this many words to people, but I will make an exception for you just this once." He gave another short pause, biting his lower lip. He was missing one more word, a word to inquire about the boy's comprehension of the statement. He didn't need it, no, but he wanted it to be there, as if it were a necessary part of the inquire. He looked back up at Isaac. "Understand?"

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isaac Character Portrait: Adina "Adi"

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Isaac

Usually Isaac would be studying the walls, taking in every detail of the halls they were moving through, as if to remember him so he could cross them again. Though he'd not be here very much longer, if what the scientists said was true. The people, the humans would come to buy him and take him away to somewhere new. And if they didn't like him they'd take him back here. Thinking of that made Isaac wonder how long Adi had been 'alive'. Had this doll been to the outside world and back? Why had he (or she, Isaac really didn't know at this point) come back? Had his human not liked him? Had something bad happened to him? Were those marks on his body not part of his design but something else?But those were questions that would test his patience, because he'd already asked one question.

There was a faint smile on the other's face, a product of his question, most likely. The answer came after a pause, which Isaac was beginning to become acquainted with. Those silences were obviously a part of Adi's trait set. Isaac watched the other with rapt interest. His features were purposely confusing? What was the point of that? Androgyny. One of those chilling words that his mind knew even though he'd never learned it. There had been a lot of those at first, but not it was dwindling the more he utilized his vocabulary and spoke to people. He was glad to know what gender to think of this companion as though, he didn't like to assume things about people. It made him uncomfortable. His self-acknowledged ignorance made it impossible to avoid all assumptions though. perhaps it would become better with age.

Isaac received another smile from the other doll, one that appeared apologetic. Why was he sorry? Isaac tipped his head slightly to one side, puzzling over that curiosity as the other apparently summed more words to say. The continuation of the answer gave enlightenment to Isaac's unspoken question, in a sort of way. This other doll had a sort of freedom. He could wear what he liked because he was two things at once. Male and Female. He still didn't quite understand it, but it was an interesting concept. He could ask Melody about it later, but he knew his time now was limited, and he wanted to ask as many things as possible. Which meant cutting himself as efficient as possible. Something quite difficult for the young man, who liked to delve into every little question, every route, and spend as much time doing so as he possibly could. No time now to be thoughtful though. It wouldn't be too long until he was caught, would it. He'd have to come back before the ball, at least, to be dressed properly, if he wanted to get out into this place.

When Adi let go of his hand, Isaac slipped it into his hoodie's pocket, since he had no pants pockets to shove his fingers in. His legs were actually starting to get cold. It had been necessary to forgo the pants though, otherwise he wouldn't have been able to get out. He'd have to deal with the draft. To distract himself he watched what Adi was doing. He had a card, and he was scanning it on the...elevator's scanner. Isaac took a step nearer to the panel, his eyes flicking over it curiously. He had no idea where this doll had gotten the card from, he didn't particularly care, but it was fascinating. It also told him that he wouldn't be able to escape on his own even if he wanted to, as he didn't have access. Oh well. Isaac was so interest with the elevator that he didn't notice Adi's eyes on him, nor the sigh.

When Adi spoke again Isaac looked around, his solemn face turning to the other doll's. He nodded at the first statement. Of course he had more questions. He had hundreds of questions, but he'd not ask all of them. Just a few, maybe. the important ones. The things the scientists couldn't...or wouldn't...tell him. He would learn things. He did not speak though, because the expression on the feminine doll's face looked as if there was more to be said on his side. The words made a small smile curve on Isaac's face. He was warmed by this. "I understand. Thank you, Adi." He said, dipping his head politely.

Then the doors of the elevator slid open, making a sound to alert them of it's presence. Isaac stared at it for a moment. He'd been on elevators before, when they were moving him to his room from the one he'd woken up in, and when they took him to check his body and make sure everything was functioning properly. But at this moment he was a bit frightened by the thing. Before he'd been mostly focused inwards, mostly on catching his bearings and trying to stay upright, but now he was was aware that he didn't know how this thing worked, which put him off ease. he swallowed, staring warily at the lift for a moment and allowing Adi to enter first, before hesitantly stepping inside. He moved to the far corner, leaning with his shoulders on the walls just before they connected in the corner itself. He shifted on his feet and looked at Adi, trying to take his mind off the elevator. They were going to the courtyard, hadn't he said? He'd be fine. It was okay.

"You don't sound like I do." he commented after a moment. "You aren't from here." he paused for a moment. "You are from...England?" He hazarded a guess at the word, as his brain knew it but not how to pronounce it. "How long have you been active? I've been active for three days, two hours." He continued to cover up the possible mispronunciation in the previous sentence. He did not ask the question he really wanted to know, which was 'What are you doing here?' but he figured he could ask that one next. He'd technically asked two questions, but he figured they were close enough that it would be fine. And he'd been a good doll so far, as Melody would say. Polite and not too obnoxious. Maybe if he told her he was utilizing his communication skills she wouldn't get too angry with him. She'd been stressing the need for him to be a good doll quite a bit in the last day, something he assumed had to do with being purchased by a human. Well, he could be good if he wanted to. Obedient enough. He had plenty of self control, see?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isaac Character Portrait: Adina "Adi"

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α∂ιηα "α∂ι"

Image "I understand. Thank you, Adi." Isaac said, bowing his head just a bit in gratitude. Adina smiled back at the motion, before his head turned away, focusing on the elevator as the doors opened and familiar sound of its arrival went off. He dashed into it quickly, eager to be moving on to the other levels, rather than hang out in the hallway all day, but the other doll was a bit more hesitant, taking his time before entering and finding a nice safe place in the far corner.

Adi took a moment punch in a few of the buttons, finally ending with hitting the "G" button, for the ground floor. He'd pressed the others, simply because he liked to take a look at the other floors on the way down. He retreated then to the middle of the elevator, waiting while the doors slowly closed and giving over to Isaac with a tilt of his head. The other doll seemed a bit uncomfortable in the situation. Adi could only hope that his own comfortable nature would rub off on Isaac and make him more relaxed.

"You don't sound like I do." Isaac said, seeming to just want to continue on with the conversation, to keep it moving. Adi couldn't blame him, especially if he was uncomfortable. Sometimes it was best for people to talk and keep their minds off of it. "You aren't from here." There was a short pause, and had Isaac not seemed as if he were about to continue the thought himself, Adi would have given him the answer. "You are from...England? How long have you been active? I've been active for three days, two hours."

Adi let his gaze wander while he thought about the answer to the second question. He knew he could easily answer both at the same time, but he had to recall the time frame in which he'd been alive. It was longer than Isaac had been alive for, and therefor Adi knew there was no way he could get right down to the hour, let alone the day. He didn't like thinking about how long he'd been alive, since he knew it to be not very long at all, and the time he'd spent healing was a little longer than the time he'd actually had with his owner. And the time without his owner was just getting bigger and bigger. It was saddening.

"I awoke in the London headquarters of Heartland," Adi began, starting off with the explanation of his accent. "I lived with my owner in the city for..." he paused, chewing his lower lip while he thought about it. His gaze which had trailed the ceiling of the elevator was down at the ground now. "Two months. I've been here for three months." He paused again, and though it would seem as though he was simply adding the two terms together, he'd done that instantly and in actuality, his mind was simply back to wandering about the explanation behind his answer. He wasn't sure if it would be a detail that the other boy would want to know, and wasn't even sure if it was a detail that he really wanted to share, even if he had made this many exceptions for the boy already. "So I've been alive for five months. That isn't a lot of time, really."

Adi shrugged, not sure if he should bring any more information out about the subject, and deciding to move his focus onto the next activity. The elevator, that was right. He loved the elevator, especially when he was traveling downward, because jumping in the elevator was just so much fun! He knew it would be a better use of his mental activity to think about doing that rather than thinking about what had happened. He was supposed to move on from what happened, anyway, right? That's what they had told him to do anyway, so he figured that there just wasn't anything else he could do.

He gave a quick glance at the changing floor number, taking note of the amount of time he would have left, and promptly bent at the knees, waiting for it, waiting for it, and jumping! The speed of the elevator allowed for his jump to feel as if he was getting so much more air and for so much longer, until he hit down on the floor again with a thud. He instantly smiled in result, giving a glance back at Isaac after a moment. Instantly, though, he remembered Isaac's hesitation with the elevator, and averted his gaze, wondering if perhaps the action might make the other doll more nervous. He decided that if he was going to continue, he wouldn't bother Isaac about it too much, just in case.

He bent at the knees again, preparing himself as if the action were far more important than it really was. He bit his lip, trying to think of things that he could say to continue the conversation onward for the sake of the other dolls. What had he said again? Perhaps he could clarify something. The transition perhaps? He certainly didn't want the other boy to assume that he'd been such a bad doll that he'd been returned all the way back to america.

"There was an accident," He began, the statement coming all-too-bluntly. He jumped again, and couldn't help but smile despite the words he knew were coming out of his mouth. He promised himself he'd be vague with details about what happened. He didn't want to scare the other doll, certainly, and the idea of a car crash was certainly frightening. Adi still wasn't quite sure what he was going to do if he got a new owner. There would be a car-ride involved at some point, wouldn't there? He would have shuddered, but instead he decided to jump again. "I got very injured, so I was sent here to recover. London doesn't have as many resources for that kind of thing."

He looked back at Isaac, shrugging and trying to make it look like the injuries weren't really a big deal. Perhaps it would be believable? He wasn't entirely sure, since the boy had proven decently clever, but Adi could still hope.

His head twisted towards the doors as they slid open on one of the random floors he'd selected, and he poked his head out quickly, looking from side to side around the hallway before spotting a scientist and ducking back into the elevator, quickly pressing the "doors close" button and watching the scenery disappear behind the doors. He turned his face toward Isaac once again, giving a great big smile and trying to make sure that the mood would stay lighthearted. He tried to think of words to say. Something along the lines of 'isn't this fun' or 'are you having fun' but neither sentence would come, and he was having difficulty forming a better one in his head. Gosh, he hated words. He tried to think of a way he could physically show the boy what he wanted to say, but that would be too hard to understand.

He opened his mouth, hoping that perhaps the words would simply come out if he let them, but after a second of soundlessness, he clamped his mouth shut and shyly covered his face in his hands. Oh, no, he thought. I can't think of anything else! Contrary to silence, however, he let out a small, stretched out moan from his throat, frustrated at his inability. Perhaps the other boy would start things up again. That was all he needed, a little more prompting and perhaps he could think of something. He split his fingers, peering through them with pleading brown eyes at the taller boy, hoping for the next question to move on from the awkward moment.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isaac Character Portrait: Adina "Adi"

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Isaac

Isaac eyed Adi as the other pressed the buttons on the panel at the inside of the elevator. He did not ask any of the questions he wished to about the contraption, however, as he was already waiting on some answers. He kept himself focused on the other doll to prevent any nervousness from showing through. To keep it down and hidden in the depths of his stomach. He could feel the elevator moving under his feet, almost as if he was hyper aware of his slow fall down the elevator shaft. But he was fine. Adi was completely calm, so he shouldn't get himself all tied up in knots. So he waited patiently, clear brown eyes focused intensely on the other. He could keep himself together. Not that there was much of himself to keep together anyway. Talking to this doll made him wonder if he was missing something. Adi seemed so much...more. Maybe it was from being out in the real world. Maybe he would be that way someday as well. More alive, more conscious, more...human. He still felt the grating of his programming on his mind, which was supposed to tell him that he wasn't a machine, that he was a living entity. He couldn't tell if it was just his paranoid imagination or not though. it was quite confusing.

The words,spoken in that curious accent, drew him from his troubled thoughts. London. He'd spoken of his owner. So he had been in the outside world. Two months seemed like a long time. He'd only been alive for three days,even though those days felt like ages. And then three more months! Five months. Times thirty days a piece. That was one hundred and fifty days. About. Give or take a few. Wow. A very long time indeed. Not as long as a year though. But still a hefty chunk of time. The next thing the doll said was the complete opposite of his amazed thoughts, however. Not a lot of time? Well, whatever he wanted to think then.

Why had Adi been sent all the way to America? That was a bit odd. And why had he been here for longer than he'd been with his human? He was again distracted from his thoughts by Adi, who had just jumped up into the air. It appeared that the other hung there for a full moment before landing again. Isaac was secretly in awe. Externally he looked mildly interested but completely focused on the other doll. A smile was flashed very briefly in his direction, which set Isaac at ease. Adi was at ease, he could be at ease as well.

Another sentence emerged as Adi jumped. An accident? Isaac tipped his head as his mind connected dots. The scars. The scars were from the accident. They weren't normal. His mouth formed a small o as he began to understand. An accident. That was why he was back here. Had his owner...? Isaac didn't want to think about that. Instead he continued to listen. There was an off-handed shrug, as if everything wasn't a big deal, and Isaac decided to leave it alone. It was one thing learning about things, it was another thing to pry. Adi had been very forthcoming with him so far anyway. He had nothign to complain about. He frowned deeply for a moment, his expression saddening briefly, but then he relaxed again as the doors slid open.

Adi looked out the door, withdrew quickly, and slid the doors shut with a touch of a button. Then there was another big grin. He edged a bit closer to the other, out of the corner a little. Adi had opened his mouth and now he was closing it again. No words to say in there, apparently. The male covered his face, and Isaac watched as a soft moan emanated from the other's throat. He edged a little bit closer again as the other peered through his fingers to look at him with a limpid eye.

It looked like a good time to change the topic a little bit. "What's it like. Out in the world?" he asked slowly. "Does it make you feel...alive?" He hesitated for a moment, an anxious look on his face, "...real?" He'd taken his hands out of his hoodie pocket and was now playing with them unconsciously, obviously the forming of a nervous habit. He wanted to know the answer, but at the same time, what if it wasn't what he wanted? Or what if Adi didn't understand what he was asking? What if he was just strange. Different. An anomaly.His mind jumped to the worst case scenario right off the bat, forgetting that he had only met one other doll over the duration of his life, so he didn't have much to compare himself with. But his curiosity was burning, and there wasn't much he could do to sate it but ask his questions and hope for answers.

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Character Portrait: Isaac Character Portrait: Adina "Adi"

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α∂ιηα "α∂ι"

Image "What's it like. Out in the world?" The other boy asked. Adina dropped his hands from his face, glad that the boy had gotten the message that he needed things to keep moving. Still, the new question was peculiar. Expected, but vague, and Adi had trouble thinking of the best and quickest way to answer that would be understandable from the boy's point of view.

"Does it make you feel...alive?" He continued. He gave a short, anxious hesitation, before adding another part to the question. "...real?"

Adina found himself simply staring at Isaac for a moment, captivated by the boy's nervousness and anxiousness. Even if the question was difficult, the other doll wanted it so badly, he needed it. Adina bit his lip. Surely he could not discuss the pains that went alongside the outside world, and he certainly couldn't discus many of his own experiences. Honestly, he wasn't sure what to say at all. Who could say what the boy's experience would be on the outside of Heartland's walls? Adi didn't even know what his own fate would be if someone decided that they would take pity on him and give him a home. He'd only been with one owner, and every person was completely different.

"This is... a difficult question to answer," Adina said finally, wanting to avoid a pause that was even longer than all of his others combined. He licked his lips, seeming to delve into thoughts on the subject, piled with thoughts on how it should be phrased. The doors of the elevator opened to the ground floor before he was even done thinking about the first sentence, and he quickly looped his arm around Isaac's to lead the other doll out into the hallway towards the direction of the back door. He sighed, shaking his head as he walked.

"I am afraid that the difference between being 'alive' and 'not alive' is so much more like black and white to me, now," He said, and a tinge of melancholy could almost be detected in that distant voice of his. Still, he avoided the word 'dead,' as he wasn't sure how the other doll would react to the idea of being dead, and simply saying 'not alive' sounded much softer. "Every morning that you still wake to find yourself moving and thinking and breathing; that is being alive. And likewise, the other is the opposite; to never move or breath or think again. What you imply is that being alive is so much more, and what you are looking to hear is that the outside world will give you some kind of new feeling..." He paused again, licking his lips and staring into space as he traversed the hallway. As the sound of something falling sounded in the distance, he found himself jumping, and looking every which way to be sure that no one else was around, before sighing and trying to relax again.

"I know that life outside is very different from what is here," Adina continued, pulling his arm out from where it was linked with Isaac's to use the pass key again on the door they had come to. When he pushed through it, a blast of soft breeze pushed a few stray strands which had fallen from his bun away from his face, and he took a deep breath in of the outside air. The courtyard was very simple, walled in by a high fence and surrounded by other buildings. The ground was concrete, aside from a few perfect squares of grass which surrounded thin trees. A dilapidated picnic table sat near one corner, and most of the scientists came out here for a smoke on their breaks. Only a couple of them were out here, including Evan, but none of them really bothered to come over, seeing as they were on their breaks, and didn't want to be forced into working. Besides, it was Adi, and Adi was always coming out here.

Adina lead Isaac over to one of the patches of grass and plopped down, leaning against the trunk of the tree. He patted the ground next to him, gesturing for him to sit down as well.

"Every new situation you encounter will make you feel more alive than you have here, I suppose," he said, continuing his explanation. "This place is quite... automated..." He shrugged. "I doubt you will be here for long, anyway. If you're going to the Ball tonight, you probably won't be coming back here after. I can't tell you what it will be like. I'd had a perfect owner the first time around. Now that I'm being resold I don't even know what will happen to me, if someone buys me."

He paused for a great deal of time, staring at the smoke as it poured from one of the scientists' mouths into the air. They were all a good distance away, and Adina was sure that they couldn't hear his words. Evan was staring however, and probably a bit baffled that Adina had brought along a companion this time, rather than being alone. It was also probably humorous to the tall scientist that the other doll lacked pants, as well. Regardless, though, the only thing Adi could hope was that the man would leave him alone. He was still upset with both Evan and Brittany, even though it wasn't their faults that he was being placed back on the market. The problem was, he just didn't want a new owner; he wanted his old one, and that was that.

He split his focus from the ideas, and, putting on a reassuring smile, he turned his attention back to Isaac. "Don't be nervous. I'm sure you'll be purchased by someone great, and you'll get to enjoy all the different parts of being alive."

Even with the statement paired with a kind smile, it sounded sad to Adi. Perhaps it wouldn't sound sad to anyone else, or it wouldn't sound sad to Isaac, but it was sad to him. Adi had been through more than just the enjoyable parts, but there was no reason to make Isaac fearful of what might happen. Perhaps if he convinced Isaac that everything would be wonderful, he would believe it as well. Unfortunately, it seemed very unlikely.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isaac Character Portrait: Adina "Adi"

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Isaac

Isaac looked back at the other doll silently, waiting. The way the other bit his lip made it quite obvious that an answer would not be short in coming. But he could wait. He could be good. He shifted on his feet, twisting his fingers anxiously. Adi spoke, reinforcing what he already know. A difficult question required more time to answer. He worked up a smile and a nod to show that he understood. In the midst of the next pause the elevator door slid open. Isaac moved a bit closer to Adi, and the other linked their arms to lead him where ever it was they were going. The courtyard, hadn't he said? He held onto the shorter doll's arm as he heard the sigh. The sigh itself seemed a bit foreboding, but he wouldn't jump to conclusions. He shouldn't jump to conclusions.

Adi finally began to speak, answer, in that careful, distanced voice of his. Alive and not alive. He knew what not alive was: being shut down. Decommissioned. Gone. Dead? He wasn't quite sure about the last one, because he still wasn't sure if he was actually alive, despite Adi's words. Could something that had never lived die? His body was artificial, sustained by programming and machinery. So what made him any more alive than the computers that checked his vitals? He didn't know what it was, but his mind was scraping the rough edges of his less than mediocre programming, the gaps that turned him into a rudimentary being when stimulated. But he did want a new feeling. Something to patch up his perceived shortcomings.

Isaac didn't hear the noise as much as he felt Adi tense, and he did the same, except instead of jumping he ducked down a bit, as if he'd expected to be hit over the head. The threat was naught however, and they soon continued moving along. They came to a door as Adi spoke again, and Isaac let the other pull his arm away, listening intently. Different didn't say much, nothing for the worse or the better, but he knew Adi wasn't done yet. he'd just have to be patient. This was a gift anyway, these small new understandings. In a moment he was distracted anyway by his first exit into the outside. It wasn't much, closed off as it was, but it was something. He closed his eyes taking in the fresh smell, though it the air wasn't clean by any standard. It was just less stuffy than the antiseptic atmosphere of the building he'd awoke in.

He followed Adi over to a tree, eying the scientists standing around, smoking. They didn't bother them though, strangely enough. Isaac wasn't going to question it though. He sat down in the grass, running his fingers through the blades like hair. After a moment Adi spoke again, and Isaac turned his body towards the other doll, folding his bare legs underneath him neatly. He wouldn't be here for much longer. He'd known that already, it was all Melody would talk about, but when Adi said it the words took on a different meaning. Partially hope, and a certain sense of sadness. Adi had said it as if though he would go, Adi would still be here. He reached out and took one of Adi's hands in an attempt to silently comfort him, as his instinct urged him to.

There was a reassuring smile from the other doll's side and Isaac returned it though his expression was still as solemn as ever. He wasn't sure if he should believe the doll's next words. He wanted to believe them, he wanted to have hope, but his empty little mind always wanted to assume the worst about himself. Nasty little habit. But he could do his best to believe the words and not worry. It would be easier on his mind. And maybe he would find some solace out in the real world for his newborn, restless mind. Who knew.

Isaac stared at his companion for a moment in intense silence. Thoughtful. "Thank you." He said after an uncharacteristic pause. Though there were still many questions in his mind, he didn't need to ask them all now. Lighter topics seemed more attractive at this moment. He stretched out, releasing Adi's hand and laying back in the grass with both his hands folded behind his head, bending his knees so his feet would lay flat, just on the edge where the concrete started. "How's your caretaker?" He asked after settling himself down. "Mine's real peppy. Likes to dress me up all the time." He said, staring at his bare legs. Melody was nice enough though, he supposed. But she was very bossy. he didn't like that. But then again, most of the scientists he'd met had done nothing but boss him around anyway. He was about to move his legs so he could look at Adi again when he heard a voice that made him freeze.

"Isaac. What's gotten into you?" Oops. Busted. He froze, as if not moving would prevent Melody from coming any nearer, but he was wrong. In a moment he was looking up at her little flushed face. her blonde hair was wild as if she'd spent a good amount of time worrying it. He blinked and swallowed hard.

"Hi Mel." He said slowly, going for the innocent look and attempting a smile.

"I've been looking everywhere for you," She chastised him, reaching down and tugging on his arm. She paid little attention to Adi. He was a special case. Anyway, Evan was right there. He could do something if he felt it necessary. Isaac was her only priority right now. "Just what did you think to do?" She continued, berating him in her musical tones.

Isaac made no response right away. What could he say? he wanted to escape, get away? No, that wasn't even true. He just stood up complacently and tugged his hoodie down a bit more. "I was...practicing my people skills?" he said, more of a question than a statement. Mel just rolled her eyes at him. "Come on, we need to get you ready for the Ball or you're never getting out of here. And you will behave this time." There was an ounce of force in her voice, and he made a mumbled "Yes'm" in response. As she herded the tall doll back towards the door, he twisted around and waved at his companion, friend? "Best of luck, Adi." He called with a quirk of a smile before Mel pushed him through the door. SHe wouldn't stay mad at him for very long. She never did.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isaac Character Portrait: Adina "Adi"

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α∂ιηα "α∂ι"

Image "Thank you." Isaac said after a short pause. Adina turned his head to look at the other boy, and smiled at the expression he saw, that calm, thoughtful, grateful look. Adi was just glad that he had been able to offer any assistance at all, and that his words had been understandable.

Adi leaned against the tree trunk, pleased with himself, and thankful to the other doll in a different sort of way. Sort of like being thankful that Isaac was thankful, perhaps. To be honest, he wasn't quite sure, himself, but that was okay. He didn't mind it. He watched as the other boy shifted his position suddenly, and the comforting hand that Isaac had placed over Adi's had retreated. Adi had barely noticed the hand when it had wrapped around his, and suddenly, now that it was gone, he wanted it back, though instead of making a move to grab it back, he placed both his hands down into his own laps and straightened out the hem of his tee-shirt dress, which had begun to ride up slightly. Even if the boy was hardly a 'friend' and he hardly knew him in the least, and even if he felt good about being able to answer the boy's questions, it didn't cover up his loneliness. Evan and Brittany were doing their jobs, and other dolls were in and out with barely a glance. Adi was all alone, in the end, really, and soon he'd be gone. Without getting an owner, he'd be gone for good.

He couldn't help but let out a little sigh.

"How's your caretaker?" Isaac asked, breaking the pause, and Adi was glad for the new statement to be distracting him from his thoughts. "Mine's real peppy. Likes to dress me up all the time."

Adi smiled at the thought, thinking about how someone peppy like that would probably be a difficult mix for Isaac, seeing as his personality seemed much more laid back and solemn. Brittany's sort of like that, He thought. Maybe a little more high-strung than peppy, though. And Evan lets me get away with everything. Isaac turned his face towards Adi, and Adi opened his mouth to give his answer, before suddenly being interrupted by the arrival of who must've been Isaac's caretaker.

"Isaac. What's gotten into you?" She called, and Adina shut his trap, not wanting to reply with his warden right there. No need to aggravate her anymore by continuing.

"Hi Mel." Isaac had replied, looking at his caretaker with a guilty smile. At least, Ad thought it was guilty-looking.

The woman continued on chastising the doll, ignoring Adi and knowing that there was no helping Adi's bad habits. After all, Adi was programmed with a desire to be adventurous and have a need to wander. Staying in a room was actually bad for his set personality. Soon, the girl was pulling Isaac up from the ground, though, and despite Isaac's attempt to make an excuse for going outside and disobeying, which probably didn't make any sense since people skills were almost irrelevant when dealing with a doll which had almost no people skills like Adi did, she gave him a stern look and began dragging him away, stating that she had to hurry to get him ready for the ball now, and that he better do as he told or whatever. Adi had tuned out of the conversation, drawing up his knees to his chin and hugging his legs in close.

He tried to focus his attention elsewhere, because now he was feeling even more lonely, though he couldn't help but glance back just before 'Mel' dragged the other doll through the door. Isaac had twisted around, and gave a parting wave to him, and Adina couldn't help but smile at the action.

"Best of luck, Adi." He called, giving a quick little smile before disappearing through the door.

Adina rested his cheek against his knees, eyes on the door that his almost-friend had parted through while he pondered the statement. Best of luck, huh? It was the same kind of statement as 'Good Luck', he was almost sure. He was wishing him luck with something. Maybe he detected Adina's reservations around the statement of Isaac leaving, putting two and two together and seeing that Adi had no thoughts that he would ever have hope of being repurchased very quickly. Maybe he wished him luck for that. Or maybe it was just luck in general, that things would be good for him. Either way, though he felt happiness that the boy had the nice thought for him, he hardly thought the thought alone would be helpful for him.

"Well, weren't you just being the little gentleman and showing your new friend all your bad habits?"

Adina picked up his head and came face to face with Evan, who was now crouching in front of him with a half-finished cigarette perched between his lips. It was a good thing that he looked, actually, because after such a long conversation, he almost ended up answering the man, and that would have been going against what Adi had decided when he'd decided that Evan and Brittany would be getting no more words. Instead, he simply nodded his response. Sure, he didn't quite see how his escaping was really a bad habit, and he didn't see how showing him around was going to influence the habits onto the other doll or anything, but yes, essentially, that had been what was going on.

"You did realize he wasn't wearing any pants, right?"

Adina nodded again. The answer to this question needed no explanation in the least.

"Alright then," Evan replied, shrugging. "Well, I think it's about time you went back to get ready for the ball, too. Brittany is probably going to start looking if you don't show up soon. So are you gonna come up with me or am I going to have to carry you up?"

Adina threw up his arms over his head, dropping his knees down flat to the ground so that Evan could get at his waste. In other words, yes. Evan would most certainly have to carry him. Evan sighed, giving a defeated look, and Adina couldn't help but smile at that. Evan would give in though. He almost always gave in, and it was his fault for offering in the first place.

"Alright, alright," He muttered, scooping his arms around the small doll and hefting him upward. In the end, Adina was partially over Evan's shoulder, arms wrapped around the tall scientist's neck and grabbing fist-fulls of the young man's lab coat, with one of Evan's hands scooped under Adi's butt, and the other rested on Adi's back. Adi rested his cheek down on Isaac's shoulder, head turned away from him and watching the scenery shift as he was carried towards the door. "You really are too much, Adi." Adi could feel a shift in Evan's body, and assumed it to be him shaking his head. "You're lucky you're cute."

Adi smiled, offering a little huff in reply, before letting the silence spread between them. He didn't need any more talking from Evan. In fact, he preferred if the man stayed quiet.

They passed through the ballroom as a short-cut, which was situated in the inside area of the ground floor, and was where the big events like this were held. The rich red colors and tapestries were meant to look elegant, and the tables with centerpieces that featured the Heartland Logo were just getting their finishing touches on the middle of the white table cloths. The last of the little reservation cards were being set on the tables. But as soon as the ballroom was there, it was gone again, and they were through the doors and back to the familiar, light-colored surroundings.

"Oh, good! You found him!"

It was Brittany's voice.

Adina's eyes shot open. He hadn't even remembered shutting them, but he must have fallen asleep on the trip back up to his room. That was fine, but he wondered if he'd missed anything on the trip. Perhaps Evan had said something, but it was too late to know now. Evan was plopping him back down on the single bed he was accustomed to, before taking a look back at Brittany.

"Yeah, he went outside again. No big deal," He said.

Adina rubbed the tiredness from his eyes, before taking a deep breath. Brittany was wearing a short, black cocktail dress, now. On the side of it, the heartland logo had been embroidered with white gems. Her short blonde hair was slicked back. Since Adina wasn't part of the group of auction dolls, he'd be accompanied by her so that she could lure in people to try and buy him. They wanted to use one of the people that were familiar with Adina and could give buyers some good reasons to purchase, and Evan would never have been able to do it. Just last week, he came into work wearing slippers, and his shirt was inside out, for Pete's sake.

"Well, yeah, you couldn't have brought him back sooner, then, you ass?" She retorted. Without waiting for an answer, however, she simply shooed him out the door, knowing that he would only further waist her time. She had to focus on getting Adina ready. Walking over to him, she started off by pulling the bun and the french braid out of his hair, raking her hands through it to give it a nice, messy-stylish wave. "And as for you, you couldn't have just stayed put for once?"

Adina shook his head, and she quickly went over to the hook on the wall to grab the dress Adina had picked out earlier.

"Yeah, I thought not," She said, sighing. "Come on, let's get you dressed."

It didn't take very long for her to have him all dolled up, slight-wavy hair pushed over to one side and makeup done in natural tones like brown and gold. She even glossed his lips, which she didn't do very often. But hey, this was a special event... or whatever. Honestly, Adina figured that she just wanted to make him look as pretty as possible so that someone would look past the damage and buy him. Everything was strategic. A bracelet over a wound on his wrist, a necklace to take the eyes away from the ruined emblem, his hair almost covering the scar on his forehead. All Brittany needed was for them to take a first look, and she could talk them up from there. Though, even with that Logic, Adina knew that it was going to be difficult for her.

"Come on," She prompted, looking at her watch. "People are going to be filling into the ballroom any minute, and some of the early birds are probably here already."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adina "Adi"

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α∂ιηα "α∂ι"

Image "Don't you just look pretty as a princess," Evan stated, giving a grin at Adina. Adina barely gave a glance up at him before straightening his gaze, letting his eyes simply stare into the direction he was facing, which happened to be at the man's chest at the moment where the stood in the hallway. "Well, you both do," Evan added as a side note, shifting his gaze over to Brittany, who pulled off the obvious-heartland-employee-working-her-way-through-what-should-have-been-a-night-off look very well.

"Thanks," Brittany replied, rolling her brown eyes.

Evan turned his attention back to Adina, putting a hand on top of the doll's head like one might do with a child. "Good luck finding a new owner! I sure hope I don't see you again after this. I mean, I'd take you home with me, but I'm not into dudes."

"Well, you're still our fail safe, Evan! Your disgusting preferences aside; if we don't sell him tonight, I am forcing you to take him home with you," Brittany replied, placing her hands on her hips defiantly.

"Maybe, okay? I don't make that much money in this position!" He replied, pouting. "And I was saving up for a custom, too!" He sighed, shaking his head. "Well, if it started to look like it'll come to that, I'll do it so that all our work doesn't go to waste, alright? But, hey, try to have fun and the ball tonight at the very least!"

"I don't want to go."

Brittany and Evan's eyes widened, and they both looked towards Adi at the same time. Did he... did he just talk again? They were sure they wouldn't be getting anything more from the little doll, but Adi was desperate. He didn't care if he had to use more words. He didn't. Want. To. Go. That was that, and so far, they just weren't getting the message.

"Adi, I thought you were done talking to us?" Brittany uttered, putting her hand on the small of his back, trying to comfort him. Obviously, if the doll was acting this much out character, something was definitely on his mind and worrying him.

"I'm desperate," Adina uttered, and he bit his lip, letting his shoulders slump downwards. He paused a moment, picking the right words so that he would not use any more than he had to. It was enough of a shock that he'd used this many more than he'd already decided to allow the two heartland workers. Still, it was his last resort, and perhaps he could at least get the suspense over with and they could dub him as failed more quickly. "I'm nervous," He added, and his phrase began another pause. He didn't like the way the two sentences didn't flow. They were too similar, and he wished he'd said 'and' instead of using 'I'm' again. At least then the phrases would have seemed to role together more easily. "No one will want me."

"That's not true, Adi," Evan replied, furrowing his brows. "You're a total sweetheart. Someone will snatch you up in a heartbeat, I'm almost positive."

"Almost." Adi repeated, and he himself was impressed at how quickly he managed to get the word out, and sure that the word alone was the best possible retort for Evan's entire comment. Especially since Evan had used it himself.

Evan was silent. Brittany was silent. Yes, the whole situation depended on a bunch of 'maybe's. Adi didn't like those kinds of words. Maybe, and Almost. So unsure, indefinite. Maybe he'd be purchased. Maybe someone would want him. Maybe he wouldn't be decommissioned. It wasn't a good word, even if some people made it out to be one. It was neutral. It was neither yes nor no. It was like limbo, like emptiness. Heartland was kind of like limbo, Adi mused. It was a place between being not alive, and being alive. Perhaps that was what he should have told Isaac, though he wasn't quite sure that the boy would have gotten the reference to what Limbo was. Still, Adi was almost confident he could have explained it, and explained it perfectly, with that thought. Heartland was limbo because it was almost nothing. It was simply waiting around until someone decided whether you would live or die. Heartland was, itself, defined by the word "maybe."

Adi glanced over as he heard Brittany sigh, and furrowed his brows. He didn't like causing either of them distress. Honestly, he didn't like to cause anyone distress, that was just one of those qualities that were very common in most dolls. He sighed, echoing Brittany, and looking down at his feet, wedged into glittery tan sandals. He almost went to apologize, but decided against it, in case there was still a chance his words would change their minds at the last minute. He didn't want to give up that easily, but still, he was sorry from his behavior. He found himself shooting an apologetic look up at them.

"We'll just have to hope for the best," Brittany said finally, flexing a small smile. "There's nothing else we can do right now."

Adi sighed one more time, giving a light nod before straightening his spine and picking up his head, regaining composure for that stupid party. Really, his biggest hope was to be able to change his clothes soon. He was getting so tired of such a constricting gown, with a long hem and a thick material. It had looked so pretty on the hanger, and he'd been excited to wear it originally, but now that it was on... He wished he had gone with the black dress instead, or maybe had gone with one of the suits. Those, at least, would have been lighter and easier to move in, he was sure.

"Yeah, you two should get going. I'm about to head home now, anyway," Evan butted in, shoving his hand into the pocket of his white lab coat, just to check and make sure that his cigarette pack was still in there. "Good luck."

"Thanks," Brittany replied, pushing her hand against Adi's back and forcing him to move forward. Adina looked back over his shoulder when they were halfway down the hall, to see if he could spot Evan, but the tall young man was long gone.

By this point, Heartland's ballroom was beginning to grow a steady bustle of people, decked out in fancy outfits and holding champagne and chattering with people and representatives. The music was hardly anything to sneeze at either, and even if Adina was one for classical instruments, that didn't mean he was a huge fan of classical music. He wasn't sure what the purpose was of that. The whole thing was so... gaudy... It was so... what was the word that Darren would have used for an event like this one? Tacky. Really, Adina didn't like two things about the place; it was noisy, and it was full of alcohol. He'd never minded being around the stuff before the accident, but.... Some things just couldn't get out of his head.

Brittany lead him to one of the tables on the far left of the ballroom, which sat among the others that would seat Heartland employees and dolls that would be at the benefit. Unlike the others that were there, Adi wouldn't be placed up for the auction, of course. He was damaged, and Heartland wasn't really interested on drawing that much attention to the fact that they were really trying to sell such damaged goods. The damaged logo of the company was enough to cringe at. They might make a reference to him, saying something like 'be sure to check out some of the other dolls we have for sale here that won't be up for auction!' or something along those lines, before actually starting the auction itself. Not that he expected anyone to buy him at all, of course. They'd probably just walk straight past him.

"You can sit down here," Brittany suggested, pulling out the chair for him. Adi promptly dropped down into it, though he kept himself straight in posture, at least to keep himself looking proper, even if he wasn't quite feeling up to it. "I need to down a drink really quick, just so I'll be able to make it through this night, but I'll be right back."

Adi furrowed his brows at the comment, but simply sighed, looking down at his hands, which sat neatly folded in his lap. There wasn't anything he could do about the drinking, but at least just the one drink wouldn't so severely intoxicate Brittany. Even Darren had had the occasional drink when Adi had been with him. It just wasn't enough of a thought to comfort him in a place with so much drinking. It was a bit frightening. He bit his lip, trying to push his thoughts onto something else and looking around the ball room curiously. He almost wanted to go explore it, but knew that Brittany would have advised against it, seeing as it was such a public event. Perhaps, if she wasn't back soon, he could just say that he had been looking for her. That was believable enough, and even still, she never really got mad at him for running off anyway.

He started to wonder if that other doll would be at the party, too. Isaac... Maybe he was on auction or something? Though Adi couldn't see him. Still, he wondered if there would be a chance to say good bye to the other boy, at least, since he had been so nice. Then again, perhaps he shouldn't. He had talked enough for one day, and there was always the chance that the other doll didn't care, either way. Adi sighed, trying to observe some of the other people that came in through the doors instead, arms linked with their girlfriends and boyfriends and followed by their neatly groomed little dolls. He really did want an owner, but he was just so nervous about the whole thing. Darren had never wanted to share him in the past. He never let his friends even touch him. Would he want Adina to go so willingly to another person like that? He sighed. This was too complicated. Why couldn't he be like one of those other dolls? The kind that didn't think much, didn't feel much. Those ones had it easy. Adi, on the other hand, was designed to be a learner. Too bad most of the things he'd learned so far absolutely sucked.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Emma Character Portrait: Xander Character Portrait: Adina "Adi"

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#, as written by Jynxii
Emma Swann


Image


Emma nearly vibrated with excitement as their limo came to a stop. All of the girls had crushed together, their dresses mingling in soft whispers of fabric. Emma was forced to sit next to the head of their house, rather than her owner, but she didn’t mind. She was excited nonetheless. Xander’s sister was the first to swoop out of the car, past the blinding lights of paparazzi and into the building. Emma didn’t bother to hold back a smile as her father went chasing after her, ignoring the press as well. Xander’s date, Clarissa, was a tall and beautiful thing, though starkly different from Emma’s vampiric design. Regardless, she was stunning, and hanging all over the left side of her master. Was it jealousy she was feeling?

“Time to enter the war-zone, it seems." Emma looked over to Xander with a grin, and then faced the double doors that were opened for them. It was just like a fairytale. The symphonic harmony of the orchestra blared to life as if on cue. Xander seemed to sink further into his sullen expression as he guided Emma and Clarissa over to the dance floor. Dancing, how fun! But who would she dance with? It was a ball, after all, and Xander would be expected to dance with his date. It was just then that Emma spotted a woman sitting alone at a table. Confidence being her middle name, she whisked away from Xander’s side and to the table, offering the man a winning smile. “Would you like to dance?” Only after she had come up close did she realize that the woman was actually a doll, like her. Furthermore, the ‘woman’ was actually male.

Of course, that didn’t stop her from grinning all the same. “My owner’s here with someone, but wants to dance. Help a girl out? I’m a terrible dancer, but, if you could lend me a hand, I’d really appreciate it… if your owner won’t mind,” she added as an afterthought. What if Xander didn’t want her dancing with anyone else? What if she had upset him by dashing off like she had? A ping of panic vibrated through her for only a split moment, but she just as quickly dismissed it. Xander would want her to have a good time, and this boy was beautiful; literally. After all, she had mistaken him from afar as a female. That didn’t matter to Emma. Blame it on the programming, or perhaps she just didn’t care. She wasn’t the standard doll, either, so who was she to judge? She wanted to dance, he had two feet; end of story. “Please?” she added, holding out a hand for him to take.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Emma Character Portrait: Adina "Adi"

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α∂ιηα "α∂ι"

Image He sighed, letting his gaze become downcast for a moment while he tried to think. Not that thinking would make the situation any better. It wouldn't make the night any more bearable, and it wouldn't make someone want to buy him. No, he really should try to think as little as possible for the time being. Looking deep in thought would make him less appealing to some people, and he should look much more alert in case anyone came his way, or would be more interested in seeing a happy, friendly-looking doll. Yes, he picked his head up once again, pushing away his more sullen thoughts.

It was a good thing he did so, too, because a lovely young lady seemed to be approaching. She couldn't be coming towards him, could she? Perhaps he was mistaken. Perhaps she had her eyes on someone else, someone behind him or something. Just to be sure, he found himself giving a quick glance at his surroundings. This... This just didn't make much sense at all. The girl was another doll, he could tell, from the little glint of the silver emblem in her throat, so... why was she coming over to Adina? He found himself staring at her, and tried to will himself to stop, though he couldn't. He probably seemed kind of weird; wide-eyed with lips softly parted, looking as if someone had hit him upside the head. But this... was kind of confusing.

He tilted his head to one side at her as she had approached, standing in front of him. An elegant beauty in a stunning dress. That perfection and beauty which was so typical for dolls seemed to have some kind of extra quality on this girl, though he couldn't tell what it was. Something about her was different, and had an alluring elegance in itself. She'd walked in with an owner, Adi recalled, or at the very least, she walked in with a number of humans, any of which could possibly be her owner. So what did she want with Adina? He was hardly good company to keep, and he doubted this other doll had much business looking at the owner-less dolls. Hell, he was always surprised to find any doll paying more attention to someone else than they were to their owner.

“Would you like to dance?” She suddenly asked, giving a smile that could charm anyone. This question of hers did seem to answer some of his own questions. He understood what she wanted now, and he understood her reasoning but... Oh god, it left him with so many other questions all at the same time. Sure, this was a party and all, so who wouldn't want to have a little fun but... Why would she want to dance with him of all people?

“My owner’s here with someone, but wants to dance. Help a girl out? I’m a terrible dancer, but, if you could lend me a hand, I’d really appreciate it… if your owner won’t mind,” She seemed to add the last sentence as an after thought. It was an understandable inquiry to add, seeing as some owners preferred to keep their dolls to themselves. Darren had been kind of like that, but who could blame him when half of his friends had made fun of the small doll? Darren had only wanted to protect Adina. Well, that, and Darren didn't really like sharing, either way. Sure, there wasn't really any sort of problem with that now, was there? Adi's owner was gone, so, did that mean he didn't need permission? He took a glance in the direction of the bar, trying to spot Brittany. She was supposed to be in charge of him, but would she really mind? He kind of doubted it. After all, more people would see him if he was out and about, wouldn't they? And that would mean that maybe someone who'd want him would see him too. Maybe. Surely, she'd be fine with dancing. What harm could it possibly do?

“Please?” She urged, putting out her hand for Adina to take.

Oh, this was just so peculiar. Surely he hardly expected anyone to talk to him, but he was almost sure that his expectations for being spoken to by other dolls was far, far less. Still, he found himself giving a small, sweet little smile, his head downward shyly as he slipped his hand into the girl's and stood up. She seemed like she must have been naturally shorter than him, though with her in heels and him wearing a much flatter pair of fancy sandals, their faces were at just about the same level, or perhaps she was a little above him.

"Seeing as I don't have an owner," he finally mused aloud to her, straightening his gaze and trying to relieve his expression of the shyness. Still, his cheeks felt a little hot, and he couldn't help but worry that he was slightly flushed. "I don't think that my owner will mind."

He shrugged, keeping a kind smile on his face. He was tempted to explain further, just in case, that he was here because he was for sale, though he decided the statement could be left out. Surely she could put two and two together. From the way she spoke and held herself, she seemed at least to be clever and personable. Surely he wouldn't need to use quite so many words with this girl, though, he figured, he should at least put forth an introduction before dancing with her, shouldn't he? At the very least, he'd like to know the name of his dancing partner. It was only polite.

"I'm Adina, by the way," he said, the usual pause in between his statements hanging in the air. Perhaps he seemed slow, but he supposed that was okay. He really was, after all, but he just couldn't understand that ability of others to get the words out so quickly and so perfectly. His mind was constantly picking and choosing, almost as if he had to run through an entire dictionary to find the perfect words for his sentence, rehearse the line in his head a few times, and then say it. Which, of course, is almost exactly what he typically did. He hated using too many words, or fumbling over a sentence. At least, this way, he always got it right. "And you are?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Emma Character Portrait: Xander Character Portrait: Adina "Adi" Character Portrait: Tamerah

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#, as written by Jynxii
Emma Swann


Image


Emma laughed at the adorable girly boy. He looked all around him, as if trying to see who she could possibly be talking to. Once he realized it was him, he looked as though she had pulled a fish from her clutch and slapped him with it. She couldn't help but giggle at his flustered blush. "Seeing as I don't have an owner," he finally managed to say, "I don't think that my owner will mind." So he didn't have an owner. How odd! Then, what was he doing here? The answer weighed her heart down ever so slightly. He was being sold here tonight... Even still, his smile never faded as he took her hand. "I'm Adina, by the way," he added, after an awkward pause. Maybe he was slow? Or perhaps his programming was a little off. Either way, he was adorable, and she decided that she liked him.

She liked the way he wore a dress like a girl, and seemed to maul over the meaning of life before answering anything she asked. "And you are?" Emma grinned, debating on saying something snarky for a moment, then quickly dismissing it. He might not understand. "Call me Emma," she replied as she gently pulled him onto the dance floor, weaving through bodies until she could see Xander from the corner of her eye. He looked miserable still, and she felt a little twist of guilt in her stomach for abandoning him. Still, surely he would be alright. He was grown, after all. She turned her attention back to the boy in a dress, Adina, he had said. "You're beautiful," she said with a smile, dancing closely with him to the lively music in the room. He looked so much like a woman, it was hard to remember he was male... and for some reason it made her all the more attracted to him.

Maybe it was just in her nature to be attracted to anyone, she mused. After all, Xander was godly in her eyes, and his sister was completely stunning. Perhaps it was in her programming to love anyone that was nice to her, or who had a pretty face. She pushed the thought aside as Adina swept her around the room in time to the music. "I'm sure you will go to a wonderful owner tonight, so you shouldn't worry about that," she said randomly after a spin out and then back into his chest. "You're so lovely, anyone who wouldn't take you is a fool," she stated matter-of-factly. It was true, mostly, she thought, though truly she knew that he would be a hard doll to sell. Not quite male, not quite female. It would take a special sort of buyer with a specific kink to want him. The thought made her sad. He was such a lovely man, and a charming dancer.

She had completely lost herself in her thoughts, and was only brought back when another doll, a female, bumped into her. "Watch it!" The other doll hissed, glaring at Emma. With a click, her fangs were in place, and Emma let out a hiss of her own, only hers was much more threatening. The dark haired offender looked shocked and let out a little squeak, while her owner just laughed. "Quite the viper you have, Xander Harrowgrove," the male owner called, laughing off his own doll's embarrassed whimpers. Emma smirked to herself, turning a grin over to Adina, giving him a wink as her fangs clicked back into hiding. "Don't you just love parties? That's my owner over there, Xander Harrowgrove. Isn't he handsome? Would you like to meet him? We would be saving him from his date, come. Let's go see him!" She felt as though she were a school girl, tugging around her favorite toy. The thought made her smile even more as she pranced through the crowd with the beautiful Adina in tow.

"Excuse us, Xander, but, I'd love for you to meet someone. This is Adina. Isn't he lovely? He's for sell tonight." The information flowed from the tip of her tongue like water from a faucet, so cool and easy. She was just about to say something else about the doll at her side when her eye caught sight of something bright red in the crowd. She shifted to look closer at what had flashed by and caught her attention, and what she saw made her stomach turn over. Instinctively, she tightened her grip on Adina's hand, taking a step back and closer to him. "Oh my god," she breathed, eyes wide and staring in shock at the condition of the doll being pulled through the crowd of beautiful dresses of silk. The doll's own clothes were nearly completely see-through and made her feel exposed and embarrassed for the girl.

"Xander, do something," she pleaded, turning her worried gaze to her owner. Blood tears brimmed in her eyes instantly, threatening to spill over and ruin the makeup she had carefully applied before coming to the ball. How could anyone be so cruel to such a lovely doll? She didn't take her eyes off her owner, begging him to stop the cruelty he was not used to seeing. Meanwhile, she failed to notice that she had yet to turn loose of Adina's hand. She was practically clinging to his arm for safety. Everyone still laughed and danced around them, the music continued to play, and yet for Emma; the whole room had froze and only the poor doll that was being humiliated and tormented moved. Her heart ached, unable to do anything. No one would listen to a doll, but maybe... maybe her owner could stop it. He was the son of a powerful man of influence, after all. Emma watched him, her crimson tears about to flow over her eyelids and stain her lovely pale cheeks.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Emma Character Portrait: Xander Character Portrait: Adina "Adi" Character Portrait: Tamerah Character Portrait: Damien Jackson

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Xander Harrowgrove

Xander stared back at Emma; and Emma started back at Xander. To the human male, the whole room seemed to fall into stilled silence as he stared into those eyes, those eyes that were brimming with rivers of ruby blood. How can something so pure-hearted be compared to a vampire? He thought, but then quickly turned his head to watch the other doll, the oddly recognisable doll, the one that had entered the room just now, shackled like an animal! Disgusting. Who could be able to do that to a sentimental doll, a doll with feelings, a doll who looked so much like a human? Who could do that to a person? Disgusting.

Of course Xander was going to do something, though he doubted that he would have if Emma hadn't been there... Part of him knew that it was because he wanted to impress her, wanted her to stop clinging to that complete stranger she was hooked onto; the other part of him could barely stomach the situation before him, so much so that he had to do something to stop the humiliation that red-haired woman was going through, that pain... He clenched his jaw.

There were several ways to go about this, he knew, as his mathematical mind-set clicked systematically into place: firstly, he could buy the doll - money was not an option - and then put the Harrowgrove Task Force into good use by burning this man and his 'business' to the ground; secondly, he could have the Heartland Forces present nearby dispatched to remove this lunatic from the ball, and then have them take this doll into their safety... Suddenly he realised why he recognised the doll. How foolish of him! Of course! Wasn't that Damien's doll? That man had caused quite a stir in New York; who wouldn't recognise his most cherished possession? Tamerah, that was her name. Yet somehow nobody was doing anything to save her. Cowards.

Across the room, his father was watching him, knowing what he was about to do, which only spurred him on more.

Beside him his date, Clarissa, whispered and gripped his hand further: "Oh how embarrassing... I hope somebody takes her away quickly; she's ruining the evening, don't you think?" It occurred to Xander that he really, really disliked this woman, and dropped her hand without effort, turning to look at Emma one last time before acting out-

That was until another familiar figure swooped into the fray, offering the abused doll his hand. Damien.

"It appears that she is in good hands..." Xander muttered, "For now..."

His eyes met Emma's once again and they were back to the start: staring at each other in silence.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Emma Character Portrait: Xander Character Portrait: Adina "Adi" Character Portrait: Tamerah Character Portrait: Damien Jackson

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α∂ιηα "α∂ι"

Image "Call me Emma," The lovely girl responded, answering his inquiry to her name. That name which he'd heard on plenty of girls before - human and otherwise - had a particular kind of elegance to her. He couldn't figure out the reason for it quite yet.

Still, whatever it was that gave her such an underlying interest, it didn't matter quite so much at the moment. Soon, she was whisking him away, towards the dance floor with an elegant hand. Stepping into the midst of the dancing, their bodies quickly pulled close to each other, beginning their steps along to the music at a slower pace before officially jumping in. "You're beautiful," She suddenly said, breaking their own silence while Adina had previously tried to focus on the music in the room. His eyes widened, and he almost missed a dance step, at the abrupt comment.

He opened his mouth to respond, but simply found himself staring downward, trying to hide the flush in his face and focus on where his feet were going. He shut his mouth, positive that whatever words he would have managed to get out would have been nonsensical. It was best just to hold his tongue for now, until he could think of the right words. This girl, surely she would think less of him if he started making mistakes like that. Quickly, he looked up once again, giving a shy smile, as if to quietly convey a silent thank you. It wasn't very often that he got a compliment from someone he thought he could believe. Brittany just said that kind of thing to give him a pep talk, and Evan... Adina was sure Evan hadn't said anything that nice. He hadn't even had to.

"I'm sure you will go to a wonderful owner tonight, so you shouldn't worry about that," She continued, and this time, the statement made Adina a little more solemn. At least she thought so, but a good owner for an odd doll was a tall order. The more the night continued, even though it had barely begun, he really doubted that anyone on the premises was going to want him. He kind of wished he'd been one of those mindless, stupid dolls. Then maybe he wouldn't care that his owner was dead, and that no one wanted him, and that he couldn't make a conversation as well as the next person.

He pushed his thoughts away from it though, as she spread away from him at an arm's length before her graceful form then spun back into him. Hadn't she claimed that she wasn't that good of a dancer? Well, Adina certainly believed she looked elegant, regardless. "You're so lovely, anyone who wouldn't take you is a fool," She finalized, her statement firm and solid as if she'd been stating a perfect fact. Well, then, perhaps everyone was simply a fool, and Adi doubted that to be true.

Still he gave another small, bashful smile, feeling overwhelmed by the compliment, and at least a little more cheerful that she thought something like that. It was nice to meet a person who was kind, after all.

Adi's eyes widened when another doll bumped into Emma, the jolt it caused to her body making him move as well. The other female doll hissed an agitated, "Watch it!" as she moved along. How rude, Adi thought, but had too little time to really think on the subject, as, in an instant, and with a faint click, Emma gave her own hiss to the rude doll, flashing what looked like fangs and startling the girl. Surely she deserved a start, but even Adina found himself jumping at the action, having not had the slightest idea that something like that would have happened. The owner of the rude doll made a call, probably at Emma's owner, but Adina was too distracted, staring curiously at his dancing partner while she turned back to him, offering the same sweet smile he had seen before, but instead with a sharp pair of fangs. Sort of like... what were they, what were they? Adina had seen them in movies with Darren. Those supernatural movies. The ones with fangs those were... They drank blood and had funny accents whenever it was a kid's show... Vampires!! That was it. He wasn't even aware that the corners of his mouth had tilted up into the slightest of smiles, happy that he'd found the word even if he knew he didn't have to use it. With a wink, her fangs were disappearing again, and he found himself staring even more. He knew there was something so beautifully unique about this girl.

"Don't you just love parties? That's my owner over there, Xander Harrowgrove. Isn't he handsome? Would you like to meet him? We would be saving him from his date, come. Let's go see him!" She said, and before Adina could react, she was towing him away, over to owner to be introduced. Somehow, Adi doubted the visitation of her owner would be productive, but then again, there wasn't much productive about this party at all. He almost wanted to interject, to answer her question. No, he didn't like parties, but he decided to keep it to himself. She liked them, and he remembered that giving a conflict of interest towards other people typically made them upset. He didn't want to make lovely Emma upset, not when she had such a charming smile.

"Excuse us, Xander, but, I'd love for you to meet someone. This is Adina. Isn't he lovely? He's for sale tonight." She said to the young man as she approached with Adi in tow. Adina studied the handsome young man, letting his eyes dart all along his physique, and then moving on to the young lady - his date, presumably - who was with him. Realizing that staring alone would simply make him seem like one of those mindless, dolls, though, he quickly pushed forth a polite smile at the young man, before ducking his head a little, shyly. He needn't introduce himself, after all. Emma had done it for him. What else was there to do? Both introductions were made. But there was a phrase that he could have put forth, wasn't there? Nice to meet you. Yes, that was it. He was about to open his mouth, to say the phrase, to make his presence as an actual, thinking, speaking doll known, but something caught his eye, causing his jaw to simply clench.

Emma had seen the young lady - the young doll - as well, for Adina heard her utter "Oh my god," the statement Adina understood to be a common expression for shock. He could understand the shock, most certainly. The fiery-haired girl stood in an almost translucent dress, her hair a mess and her body beaten down. She carried the dirt and grime and pain of mistreatment, and Adina could feel a choking sensation in his throat, a tightness in his gut, and a strain in his chest. Pain... He could see that look in the way she held herself, in the way she was so properly cared for. Were there... were there really people who would mistreat their doll in such a way? Hurt it and let it suffer? He could understand pain. He knew what it was like for every part of you ache and throb and feel like that piece of you could never handle movement again. Even psychological pain. But this girl could feel it so much worse. It was a different kind of pain, it was a more agonizing pain, he was sure.

He found himself staring with wide eyes, his free hand to his neck and his fingers along that scar in his neck, feeling the way the Heartland logo was bent and disfigured and the skin indented and creased with a twisted line. No kind of pain was okay. How could someone do that to their doll? It began making him even more fearful of the kind of person that might buy him. Having had only one owner, did he really even know what to expect? Who could say what other people were like? He wanted to look away, wanted to run away even. Go hide, seek comfort, but.... There wasn't anyone to comfort him, really. No one could protect him from his thoughts, and no one was going to protect him from being purchased. He needed to be bought, or he would die. But this girl... Surely heartland wouldn't allow this kind of thing at one of their prestigious parties, would they? They'd save her, they'd do something! He found himself shifting his gaze around, looking for Brittany, but he didn't spot her in that little black and silver cocktail dress. He almost wanted to panic about her not being in sight, too.

"Xander, do something," Emma pleaded with her owner. Her arms were tight around Adi's arm, and he couldn't blame her. He almost wanted to latch onto her as well, to use her as support, but decided against it. When he turned his face back to her, seeing red tears welling up in her eyes - no, not just red, they were blood - he knew she needed the support. Adina would just sink his feelings instead. He had to avoid all that business about crying, even if he wanted to, even if everything about this moment screamed at him to give up, to crawl under the earth and be dead, like his owner. No, He had to be a good doll. He couldn't ruin his makeup.

He looked to Xander, this time. No, perhaps he should be called Mr. Harrowgrove, since Adina didn't quite know this human so well. A more formal title would have to be used. The young man had dropped his hand from his date, and seemed to be ignoring her now, having little interest in her. He looked to the fire-haired girl, looked to his doll, and looked to Adina. And in those three looks, Adina could tell a lot of things. Xander Harrowgrove was a one-doll kind of guy, he didn't really care about his date, and the only reason he paid Adina any mind was because Emma's hands were on him. Her owner was about to do anything for her, and if the poor, fiery-haired girl's situation weren't causing him such worry, making him so sad, he would have smiled about the little things he could tell about Xander Harrowgrove.

Adi looked back to the girl again, though he almost didn't want to, the idea of that kind of treatment to a doll was making him sick, and felt a swift relief flood over him, watching as a man - a much kinder looking man, one who seemed to know the poor girl - swept in close to her and took up her hand. He shut his eyes, glad that someone had intervened, that someone cared.

"It appears that she is in good hands... For now..." Xander Harrowgrove's words came in a mutter, though it was indeed enough of a statement to instigate Adi opening his eyes again, trying to focus on the young man and the lovely doll he was in the presence of. He had to bring back composure, he had to focus on what was going on.

Dropping his hand from where it had been on the scar of his neck, his eyes darted back and forth from Emma and Xander. Yes, Xander was a one-doll kind of guy, and having another around was only a crowd, and possibly competition. Quickly, Adi slid his arm from Emma's grip until only their hands were touching, and turned so that he was facing her, giving her a gentle nudge of the arm to get her to turn towards him as well.

"Don't worry," He put forth, offering a sweet smile, though it seemed not to reach his eyes completely. He paused trying to pick and choose. Should he explain what not to be worried about? No, it seemed obvious, and Emma was a clever girl. She could tell what he meant. Don't worry about anything. This time, he added an extra little pause, and on purpose. He had to be sure that the thought of 'Dont worry' was complete, and that his next statement wouldn't be conveyed as a part of the last. "You have a lovely owner, Emma, and I was glad to meet both of you." He brought her hand to his lips and kissed the back of it gently. Surely, it would make her owner Jealous for him to give her a kiss on the cheek, after all. When the action was done, he flexed his smile again, and this time, it just barely seemed as bright as it should have been, though there was still a hint of how solemn he truly felt in his eyes. He still needed to catch his breath, his thoughts, to sink all the sad feelings. No one would buy a sad doll. "I think he would like you all to himself, and I should be looking for my caretaker."

Dropping her hand, he stood for an extra second, giving a glance back at Xander Harrowgrove, before giving the young man a polite bow of the head, and a little smile before turning back to Emma and gently brushed away one of the bloodied tears with his thumb. Surely it wasn't normal to cry tears of blood, but something told him that it was just part of her design; part of the vampire thing, maybe.

"Everything is going to be okay." Adi didn't normally reiterate something. Especially not something that had been a couple of statements ago, since it had already been implied, but sometimes when people were spilling with emotions, they needed to be reassured of the same thing more than once. Or at least, that was the reason he would have said to explain why he made the statement, which was oh-so similar to the one he had made before, telling her not to worry. But really, he wasn't sure if he had only directed it at Emma. Perhaps it was directed at Xander, as well. Maybe he even wanted to say it to himself, for surely, he had been worrying all night that nothing would ever be okay. At least, he could say, that Emma was in good hands. The fire-haired girl was in good hands. And at least after this evening, he would live for another few weeks. That was more than nothing.

Offering one last parting smile, though this one had regained it's hint of solemnity, he turned from them and walked off, not heading back to his seat but trying to see if perhaps he could spot Brittany still at the bar. Surely, to anyone watching him wander, he looked lost, and certainly he was. God, the Bar would be the last place he wanted to be, but seeing as Brittany had not yet returned to the table she had seated Adina at, it was the best bet for where she would be. At the very least, looking for her gave him an excuse to wander and spy at the other patrons of the evening.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Emma Character Portrait: Xander Character Portrait: Adina "Adi"

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Xander Harrowgrove:

Xander did not like Adina. Even if he knew little about the androgynous doll, he found an instant dislike clenching at his stomach for whatever reason, he wasn't sure - or at least, he was sure but did not feel terribly inclined to think of it too much, seeing as it involved one topic he most certainly couldn't linger on: Emma. That said, he still found his eyes weighing heavily on her, lips pressed in a thin line, eyes slightly narrowed. Thinking. He could not tell if he was irritated or merely speculating; all he could find himself doing was flick his gaze between Adina and Emma, as the former disappeared into the crowd. The doll had kissed Emma's hand; the doll had been very familiar with Emma; the doll had danced with her - no, Xander did not like Adina all too much.

Another whining violin tune split through the ballroom all of a sudden, a new song striking up among the band; Xander found himself unconsciously taking Emma's hand, drawing her onto the dance-floor amid the throng of shifting, shimmering ball-gowns and tuxedos.

"Let's dance," He said, although it was almost a scowl. He did not even like dancing - well, not this kind of dancing anyway - so what on Earth had dragged him into the midst of it all? There really was no point pretending he did not know the answer to such a simple question.

As he held Emma's body against his own, hand on her waist, other hand in her own, spinning across the glossy tiles, Xander watched her closely; felt something tighten in his stomach; found breathing difficult for some reason, inhalations tangling with exhalations in a complex mesh. Nervousness? No, that couldn't be - but as he said this, he realised that he could no longer watch the doll, his eyes staring off into the distance, towards the band, anywhere other than her pale face, her wide eyes...

When he spoke, he tried to sound nonchalant: "Did you say Adina was for sale? Who is buying him?" Why were you dancing with him...?

Xander didn't - couldn't - ask that, for if he tried he knew he would discover his anger splitting painfully through his skin, so he settled for something easier: he watched her lips part and her breaths come quickly and wondered what it was that he found so curious about her.